Opening 24 Dec 2015
“… Remember me in your stories, and your songs. Know that I will always love you.” As a wee lad, his mother’s softly sung songs and magical stories enriched his life, but that was six years past. Stuck minding his silent sister Saoirse (Lucy O’Connell), Ben (David Rawle) barely notices her wading into the sea – thank goodness for Cú, their sheepdog. Because their loving father (Brendan Gleeson) is so despondent he struggles just to maintain the lighthouse. Granny (Fionnula Flanagan) arrives, they celebrate Saoirse’s birthday, and afterward Connor heads to the mainland, Granny to bed. Ben scares Saoirse telling a mischievous tale about the giant Mac Lir and the Owl Witch, whereby Saoirse plays the shell awaking her Selkie-self. With the outcome that on Halloween, killjoy Granny drags them, sans Cú, to the city. Whence, Faerie creatures and Macha, due to Saoirse’s melody, are alerted of her presence. The Owl Witch’s determination is awesome. Encounters with Faeries’ and the Great Seanachai (Jon Kenny) prepare Ben for the truth that Bronach (Hannigan) shows him. With great panache, the undeterred Ben chooses a course guided by love.
Long, lyrical tales are intrinsic to Irish, Scottish and Celtic traditions, history, and storytelling. Tomm Moore obviously listened well to childhood stories. With William Collins’ wonderful screenplay based on Moore’s idea, Moore’s second feature – both Oscar® nominated – is an example of quintessence animated storytelling. The voice actors are masterful. Kilkenny, Ireland-based Cartoon Saloon’s traditional animation has profundity, and magical, mesmerizing qualities. Bruno Coulais’s spellbinding music stylishly fuses all. Make your holidays memorable by seeing this enchanting film; its timelessness is surely entwined in the fathomless splendors of love. (Marinell Haegelin)